Is online shopping sustainable?

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I personally considered Online shopping to be very sustainable. Saving a trip to the store and getting some serious discount was the highlight for online shoppers. I stopped buying online lately due bad experience with the quality of the product but I always thought that at least it saves you time via e-commerce.

But what about the emissions from fleets of delivery vehicles bringing orders to houses? Delivery trucks also contribute substantially to the burden of fine particulate matter, known as PM2.5, in the air, which is associated with many effects on human health. Especially when the product is returned (which happens in great number) there is likely to be more trips from the firm’s driver and not to mention, sometimes you are not at home and they have to return to your house again.

An increase in the number of home shopping purchases increases travel time, traffic delays, and vehicle emissions of the transportation network as a whole, the researchers say. While some previous studies suggest that e-commerce is associated with lower carbon emissions than traditional retail, other researchers have warned of a “rebound effect,” which occurs when gains in efficiency merely stimulate new consumption. Something similar may be going on in Newark, the results suggest.

But a recent study in Newark, Delaware suggests that the knock-on effects of online shopping may worsen traffic congestion and transport-related carbon emissions.Researchers at the University of Delaware conducted a survey of downtown Newark residents’ shopping habits and preferences and used the responses to calculate the quantity of goods purchased through home shopping.They also got information from delivery companies about the number of trucks on the road and the number of packages per truck, and used this to determine how many delivery trucks are required to distribute home shopping purchases.Finally, the researchers used transportation simulation software and data from local transportation authorities to determine the effect of delivery trucks on the transportation network, focusing on an area of downtown Newark that includes a portion of the university’s campus.They conducted similar analyses in 2001, at the dawn of the online shopping era, and again in 2008. They reported their results in a recent paper in the International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology.

Read this journal to know more about the ill effects of Online shopping.

 

Source: Laghaei J. et al. “Impacts of home shopping on vehicle operations and greenhouse gas emissions: multi-year regional study.” International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology

Exotic Renewable Energy Plants: Tidal Energy

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Tidal Energy power plants are definitely some kind of an exotic form for energy production. That’s because most tidal power plants are just pilot projects that are only build for research purposes and do not create a very big amount of energy in their lifetime. Tidal energy is one form of hydropower energy that gets obtained from tides and is then converted in useful electricity. In ancient times and in the middle ages tide mills have been used to mill grain, and nowadays axial or cross flow turbines are used to produce the electrical energy that is needed in modern times. As the gravitational attraction of the moon moves huge amounts of ocean water on certain coastlines or trough lagoons, tidal power plants were build in this strategic positions, there are 4 main types of tidal power generators: Tidal stream generatorstidal barragesdynamic tidal power and a tidal lagoon.

Unfortunately the issues that come with tidal energy are fairly big, from environmental concerns on marine life (also given the danger of blade strikes and the acoustic output). From a technical and maintenance point of view corrosion in salt water and fouling have a big impact on the plants and make them hardly economically efficient.

Even tough there are some massive problems to face when it comes to significant tidal power generation, there are some steps in the right direction, like a 3,4 MW tidal power generator in the East China Sea.

Check out tidalenergytoday.com for more news on the argument!

 

Extreme weather is due to Climate Change. Really?!

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Every once in a while, I meet someone who doesn’t believe in climate change. They say that all the changes are happening since the beginning of the time and will continue to be so it is quite normal for the Earth to be so warm or to be so cold. Well, I always partially agree with them. But since last century we can see more and more storms all over the world. Maybe 2 of them you might think as a normal phenomenon but we saw in UK,China and India among other countries made it clear that it is indeed happening due to Climate Change.
If you still do not agree, read this post where the scientist in UK did some research and Carbon Brief did further research on that research and then followed up some Question and Answers session to understand these disasters happening all over the world. Why I can a storm a disaster? Well, it completes ruins your city and daily routine and not to mention the financial problem it causes the government in the matter of days.

A series of storms – first Desmond, then Eva, and finally Frank – dumped 230mm of rain on the UK during December, triggering flooding across much of Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland. The preliminary results – from three different approaches – indicate the human impact on climate was as large, or even larger, than the impact of natural fluctuations in the Atlantic and Pacific ocean – even during a strong El Niño event. Climate change and ocean variability each made the record rainfall totals 50-75% more likely, the researchers say, and doubled the chances of such a warm month. Random variability in weather also contributed to the severe conditions.

Do you still feel that Climate Change isn’t happening? Is Yes, then I am sure you believe that Santa Claus exist too!

Source: Carbon Brief, Climate Prediction

What’s in your climate agreement? – Konrad Luders

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On December 12th 2015 the governments of 196 nations have finally decided to work together against climate change, a problem known to exist for more than four decades… starting in 2020! But can this be it? Have our governments really just managed to conserve a habitable planet for humans? Or is it too early to pad ourselves on the back just yet?
While it should be acknowledged that this is a big step forward, compared to previous agreements, the deal holds next to no legally binding regulations and the countries mainly responsible for the current state of the environment managed to avoid legal responsibility. Leveling off of emissions will not happen until the second half of this century. Even insurances that are mentioned in the agreement will not cover the main risks of climate change; rising sea levels, vanishing drinking water and droughts. Leaving small countries vulnerable. Only time will tell if this agreement is truly a success. I sure hope it will be, but sadly I’m pessimistic.
But what can we do in the meantime? We don’t have to wait for governments to start acting, do we? We all have the power to make changes every day, no matter how incremental they might seem.
Every time we step inside a car, we can ask ourselves if there are other means of transportation we could be using instead. Maybe we can spend the next vacation exploring the country we already live in, instead of flying half way across the globe.
The livestock sector is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. So, every time we are about to buy or order meat we can stop and think about a vegetarian alternative instead. This does not mean we cannot eat meat anymore. We can eat as much or as little meat as we feel comfortable with. But, if we just stop and consider the consequences every single time, I’m sure more often than not we are going to choose the vegetarian meal instead.
About 1/4 of all food purchased ends up in the trash. That’s not only a waste of resources, but also a waste of money. Between eating leftovers and small scale biogas plants, there are plenty of ways to re-use food waste.
We can look for sustainable alternatives to big banks who keep investing in fossil fuels and move our money to those investing in sustainable small and large scale projects instead. Or, if we’re too attached to our bank, because the IBAN we have is just soooo perfect, we can at least voice our desire for more sustainable investments to our bank. There are energy providers out there who re-invest their profit in the establishment of more sustainable energy sources instead of paying big bonuses to their managers. They deserve more customers.
And finally, remember to ask yourself: “Do I really need another t-shirt?”
Learning about all of these alternatives is not only the right thing to do, it can be a lot of fun and very satisfying as well!!
Change the world! I know you can!

This post is written by Konrad Luders.

EuroEnviro2016  |  Vice Project Coordinator
Website: euroenviro.org

Ever heard of: Naomi klein

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In this post of ‘Ever heard of’ I am going to talk about Naomi Klein a Canadian author & filmmaker known for her political analyses. Her latest book ‘This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs Climate Change’ became a bestseller. It sheds some light to the connections between the rapid growth model of the free market economy and its significant negative impact on the climate. I have to be honest, I haven’t read this book yet but there is an hour long video where she talks about her book and about environment.

 

If you can not read the book or watch this video, you can check the documentary.

She is also supporting the ‘divestment’ movement since 2013. There is a lot to know about her. Not only she could be a perfect role model for women but for men too. In Klein we trust!

3D-Underwater framing

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In resource economics we talk quite a lot of renewable resources and their stock size, and to make it more feasible professors introduce to students this topic by the stock of fish  in the sea and the trees in forest.
Today I would like to do the same to you and show you this project, that somehow unites the two arguments:

“Farming the Sea: why eating kelp is good for you and for the environment”

This superduper-well made Video about a project that has the potential of a big future shows how kelp farming that is linked with a multi-stage breeding of oysters and fish stock can revolutionize the use of the oceans resources. But the main plant here is kelp, some sort of large seaweeds that grow in so called “underwater forest”. What makes kelp so special is the fact that it is full of nutrients, it soaks up excess nitrogen and phosphorus in the ocean and can be used as vegetable, fertilizer and biofuel.

If you have 5 minutes of time, lean back and enjoy this eyeopening video.

 

Ecomondo – The Green Technologies EXPO

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Couple of days I went to check out this expo which is quite famous in Italy to showcase all the companies which are doing business in Sustainability. This was the fourth edition. I went there last year too but with less enthusiasm and knowledge, I could not enjoy to the best. This year was better. I could understand what the company was showing like Wind Turbine or Solar panel (thanks to our recent course topic – Renewable Energy Production) or companies working in waste/water management. I decided to attend this conference ‘Green Economy’. I liked the sound of it but now there goes my rant.

The main people who had to speak about it were late by 1 hour and they finished one hour later. Honestly I lost my interest in listening to them. Such unprofessional people here.

Anyway the discussion was good. One of the Italian journalist spoke about various harsh truth about the status of Italy in terms of Sustainability. Like Italians still use incarceration to burn waste or Italians still need to progress in terms of Waste management. Some of the states are really bad in collecting the waste. Around 40% is completely discarded. There was another representative from IMF so spoke about Co2 taxes and better taxes reform in Italy. You should check ‘Green New Deal for Italy’. Apparently there are focusing a lot recently on waste management. I liked the conference but honestly because of late arrival and late finish, I could not see the entire expo like I wanted. The expo was huge and was very nicely organized. I would like to go there again but conferences? No, Thanks!